Dr. Diamond: It's very interesting, my doctor at first was very resistant to the idea that I would be on essentially the Atkins diet. And his words to me were, "You are making a bad situation, you're making it worse. You're increasing the likelihood you're going to have a heart attack." When he started seeing all the beneficial effects of the changing diet he was very impressed. And in fact recently, it's been 10 years now, my doctor has followed my progress, he now says he's a low-carb advocate, he understands actually now and so he's been quite flexible.
Dr. Eenfeldt: It only took 10 years.
Dr. Diamond: Yeah, well, over the course of 10 years he's actually appreciated the importance of the changing diet, which is really to target those foods that are very high in carbohydrates. Essentially target foods, the way I look at it is a food that would raise blood sugar.
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Dr. Diamond: It was very difficult to defy an authority figure... And we want to trust doctors that are giving advice that has already been through multiple layers of assessment and filtering and that they would have the best information for us. It was very difficult because my doctor went beyond urging, he was demanding that I go on a statin. So it was very difficult for me. And of course I started eating more meat and people were telling me, "You are eating all that meat and so you are increasing your risk."
So there was peer pressure from family, from friends. And at first I was really very cautious about it. So I needed to dive head first completely into the literature. I needed to read the research and see what's the actual evidence that eating meat is unhealthy.
Dr. Eenfeldt: What did you find?
Dr. Diamond: I found there's no evidence. I found no evidence that eating meat per se is unhealthy. What I realized is that a meal consisting of cheeseburger, french fries, ice cream and soda truly is unhealthy.
Dr. Diamond: So that's an unhealthy meal. But let's divide it into its components, that's what I learned to do. So when we eliminate the french fries, then the soda and the bread and we're left with the cheeseburger, what we're actually finding is, the research shows, that is not unhealthy. And that kind of meal in which you're just looking at protein and fat is not associated with adverse health effects. - - - - - -
And I grew up with the Ancel Keys' view of heart health which is lean meat, grains, just olive oil, very low-fat, demonizing butter and eggs. And I grew up with that idea and that's really what potentially got me in trouble, because I got into my 50s.
Dr. Eenfeldt: How about the statins thing, because your doctor wanted to put you on a statin? I know you spent a lot of time reading and discussing that as well. So should people be on statins?
Dr. Diamond: Absolutely the answer is no. I say no because the effects have been inflated so far beyond what people actually believe. People have this belief, they've been led to believe that there's a dramatic reduction in the incidence of heart disease in people on statins. And I actually have some work published with Uffe Ravnskov where we've made it very clear that these minuscule effects have been inflated with deceptive statistics. So when you actually look at the incidence of heart disease in people who take the statins versus placebo, you see almost no difference.
Dr. Eenfeldt: You said almost, so there's a difference.
Dr. Diamond: Almost... You have about 1% improvement in outcome. I mean quite literally you give 100 people statins, 100 people placebo, otherwise equivalent groups, and the difference is one person given the statins will have one less heart attack over the course of two or three years in those given statins compared to placebo.
Dr. Diamond: First of all, that is one random person. So it's like the movie line, "Do you feel lucky?" Are you going to be the one person out of 100? Now for the other 99 not only there are no benefits, but there are side effects. And the side effects are so well established. We know that you're going to reduce your testosterone levels, you will have erectile dysfunction, we know there are more cataracts in people who use the statins. Diabetes, you actually have healthy people who are taking the statins and you see a doubling in the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Eenfeldt: So do you take a statin?
Dr. Diamond: Of course not, I would never take a statin. And in fact what I have actually--
Dr. Eenfeldt: Should nobody take a statin?
Dr. Diamond: Well, first of all of course I don't give any medical advice. I'm giving information, people may need to make this decision for themselves. But what they need to understand is that they have been deceived, they have been led to believe that there is a substantial reduction in the incidence of heart disease in those who take the statins. You see 30%, 40%, 50% reduction in coronary events in those people taking the statins.
What they need to understand is how this is so deceptive. So in a study in which you have for example 2% of the people who are given placebo have heart attacks, 1% of the people given a statin have heart aHacks. There is only 1% difference in the population, but when the drug companies present this to physicians, that difference from 2 to 1 is a 50% reduction in the rate. They have taken the 1% (absolute risk reduction) and inflated it to be a 50% reduction in incidence (so-called relative risk reduction).